An idea for opening software patents...

Richard Stallman rms at
Wed Oct 20 18:39:52 UTC 1999

    The problem is current software/e-com patents are not "inventions" but "land

That is a part of the problem.  Software patents that cover "real
inventions" are the rest of the problem.

People seem to be very reluctant to doubt that patents are a good
thing, or even to doubt that they are a good thing in the particular
field of software.  So once they see there is a problem, they cling
very hard to the idea that the problem is solely due to the "mistakes"
of the patent office.  That way, they can believe that there is
nothing wrong with software patents in principle.

I have seen this time and time again.

Any time you focus your efforts on the absurd and trivial patents and
the problems they cause, it has the effect of reinforcing this
tendency--in effect, it acts as a safety valve to prevent questioning
of the larger and deeper issue: should software be covered by patents?

Does this mean we should refuse to try to invalidate absurd patents?
I don't think so.  I do not think we should be Macchiavellian.
Getting rid of even one software patent is a step forward.

But when we work on invalidating a trivial software patent, we must
remind the public over and over, "This approach will only deal with
the trivial patents--and it is so much work that we cannot even deal
with all of them.  The nontrivial ones are just as harmful, just as
unjustified, and they need to be eliminated *also*."

It is necessary to repeat, this every time someone seems to be taking
this effort as grounds to believe that software patents would be a
good idea if only the absurd patents were eliminated.

That may happen pretty often, so you must not feel shy about repeating

More information about the License-discuss mailing list